Monday, September 17, 2018

After Three Years, Oakland Police Release Body-Camera Video of Demouria Hogg Shooting

But the footage still leaves questions about what happened right before he was shot.

By Scott Morris
Mon, Sep 17, 2018 at 9:33 AM

click to enlarge A still from the video shows Oakland police officers trying to pull Demouria Hogg from the car after he's been shot.
  • A still from the video shows Oakland police officers trying to pull Demouria Hogg from the car after he's been shot.

The Oakland Police Department has released body-camera footage from the officer who shot Demouria Hogg over three years ago. Oakland police released the video in response to a public records request after repeatedly denying and ignoring requests for the video.

Hogg, 30, was found unconscious in his gray BMW 520i at Lake Park Avenue near Lakeshore Avenue on June 6, 2015. A gun was on the passenger seat, so when firefighters found him at about 7:30 a.m., they called Oakland police.

Police shut down the street, which is a highway offramp from Highway 580 near Lake Merritt. It was a Saturday and a weekly farmers’ market was underway nearby.

After officers tried unsuccessfully to wake Hogg for more than an hour, they approached the driver’s side window and broke it. Almost as soon as the window was broken, Officer Nicole Rhodes, who was providing lethal cover, fired two rounds. Officer Daniel Cornejo-Valdivia simultaneously hit Hogg with a Taser.

After the shooting, Rhodes told investigators that she saw Hogg lean back and reach with his left hand toward the passenger seat, where there was a gun.

It’s impossible to tell from the video whether Hogg moved before Rhodes shot him. The camera mounted on Rhodes’ chest is pointed slightly down, and doesn’t capture what is happening inside the car.

Once Officer Karl Templeman breaks the window with a crowbar, officers can be heard shouting “Don’t move!” repeatedly. Rhodes fires about five seconds later.

The officers then tried to pull Hogg out of the broken window. Hogg appears to be incapacitated and limp as the officers tried to pull him out. Rhodes continued shouting, “Don’t move!” and pointing her gun at him as the other officers pulled Hogg from the car. Once he was on the ground, she holstered her weapon and walked away, breathing heavily. The officers called for medical assistance.

Sgt. Wilson Lau, who had coordinated the plan to get Hogg out of the car, then approached Rhodes and said something inaudible.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Rhodes responded. She said she shot Hogg twice in the chest, though an autopsy would later reveal he was only hit once.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office investigated the shooting and declined to file any criminal charges against Rhodes on Feb. 8, 2016.

A separate review by the Citizens Police Review Board found that Rhodes, Lau, and Cornejo-Valdivia had all acted within department policy. Rhodes and Lau remain with the Oakland Police Department and Lau was promoted to lieutenant.

Hogg’s family sued and reached a settlement with the city for $1.2 million in September 2016.

While some police departments, such as the San Francisco Police Department, have tried to bolster community relations by releasing body-worn camera footage days or weeks after a shooting, Oakland police have mostly tried to prevent its release.

Under California law, police departments can withhold information for cases under investigation, and officer-involved shooting investigations can take years.

Oakland police released more than an hour of body camera video showing the standoff that preceded the shooting, with Rhodes spending most of it crouched behind a patrol car.

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